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UNC MBA recipient's food app billed as positive alternative to Yelp

A passion for food and technology brought around 70 people together Friday to launch a new restaurant recommendation app, CurEat.

CurEat allows users to create lists of their favorite local restaurants and share them with friends or family. The app eschews a traditional rating system in favor of a recommendations system and allows users to interact with restaurants directly to give feedback, rather than posting negative reviews for everyone to see.

Stephen Mangano, a UNC-Chapel Hill MBA recipient and Raleigh tech developer, created CurEat so users could find the best local restaurants — without sifting through negative reviews. 

“We want people to make lists of great places they like, so we stay away from the actual kind of ratings that other sites use,” said Steve Mangano, the app’s founder.

The app also features a panel of local food experts, called CurEaters — who include Ashley Christensen, a James Beard award-winning chef with several restaurants in Raleigh, Charlie Deal, the owner of Chapel Hill restaurant Jujube, and Wyatt Dickson, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and owner of Durham barbecue restaurant Picnic. 

“This app gives users the same information but in a way that it’s coming from people you know and trust and it has a little more credibility than a guy on Yelp," Dickinson said. 

CurEat was created in collaboration with Durham-based Purpose UX, and Oak City Labs in Apex. Carol Vercellino, the CEO of Oak City Labs, said the company began work on the app around Thanksgiving in 2015. 

“(Mangano) has always been after the goal of finding great local restaurants and creating a positive atmosphere around that, and I think he accomplished that,” Vercellino said.

Dickson said the Triangle is a perfect area to launch an app like CurEat because of the access to education and the burgeoning local food community. Although local food can be expensive, he said the community is moving toward making eating well more inclusive.

“It shouldn’t be a thing for rich people. It should be for everyone,” Dickson said.

Mangano said CurEat is currently available for iPhone users and will launch for Android in the summer. The app will eventually be available in over 60 cities — but he said CurEat will continue to be based in the Triangle area.

“We have a great food culture and we have a great tech culture," he said. "I really want this to be a Triangle story, and story of how we can grow an entrepreneurial community of apps. This, hopefully, is the first of many that are successful here.”


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